3 Reasons to Think Twice About Baby Food Pouches (Pedcast by Doc Smo and Sonya Corina Williams)

Sure, they are convenient but have you ever wondered if toddlers and young children, eating, or should I say drinking, pureed food from a food pouch is a smart idea? Stay tuned to get Doc Smo’s answer.

Image by dhanelle from Pixabay

Musical Intro

Providing Pouches
Let me paint you a familiar scenario; You’re in the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. The aisles are packed with shoppers stocking up for the week. Your 18 month old is getting hungry, but every check-out line snakes far into the distance. He or she is getting antsy and progressively more upset. You’re worried about a full blown meltdown, seconds away. Luckily, you reach into your purse or backpack and pull out a baby food pouch! Crisis averted! Your child is happily eating pureed fruits and greens, and you safely make it through the line and home for dinner. These kinds of situations are all too familiar – whether it’s the grocery store, or their sibling’s dance class, or running errands. Baby food pouches have become an easy, less messy way to carry food that your child will eat while you’re on the go. In fact, until recently (they have actually started falling), sales of baby food in pouch form have skyrocketed since their arrival on the market in 2008. But while they are very convenient and handy to have, they might not be the best choice for your child. Some pediatricians, pediatric speech therapists, and swallowing experts have been sounding the alarm that feeding children pureed food that is not chewed but rather sucked down has a negative impact on a child’s ability to learn to chew and swallow non-pureed foods properly. So today we’re going to talk about the pouch predicament that parents face who are raising young children-to use or not to use food pouches?

A Few Pouch Predicaments to Ponder
No one is going to argue the fact that baby food pouches are convenient and useful at times. But there is more to the story than convenience. Here are a few reasons why baby food pouches may not be the best option for your child.

Potential Problem #1-Excess sugars:  One particular concern is the nutritional content of these pouches. Most tend to be fruits and while this isn’t true of all pouches, many  have added sugars, above and beyond the natural sugars in the foods they certain. That’s a problem. And when Johnny or Janie drinks their food as opposed to chewing it, the sugars in the food stay in contact with their teeth longer. This situation makes dental decay much more likely. So, if you do buy some of these pouches, read those labels carefully to avoid any added sugars and follow them with some water for your child to drink. For that matter, you should do that with all foods you provide for your children. No sense in getting your children hooked on sugar.

Potential Problem #2-Lack of exposure to a variety of tastes: From about 6-18 months of age, children are particularly open to new tastes and textures in their foods. Yes, they need repetition but with repeated exposure, usually there will be acceptance. After 18 months-24 months, many children become very rigid about their eating. The time to capitalize on introducing a variety of foods, tastes, and textures is before 18 months of age.  By relying on pouches, you reduce the amount of variety your child gets to experience in both taste and texture, increasing their likelihood of picking eating in the future. Just allowing children the opportunity to play with their food and be consistently exposed to new items increases their acceptance of a variety of nutritious foods. They also benefit from watching how the family eats food, the same food that they are eating. How can that happen if the rest of the family is eating real food but your toddler is sucking on a food pouch?   Don’t waste the golden opportunity for your toddler to learn to eat textured foods, just like the rest of the family!

Potential Problem #3-Difficulty learning to swallow food with texture: The last reason is a bit more subtle. Consistently relying on baby food pouches may actually delay your child’s development of motor skills that in today’s world we call “texture aversion” or “oral aversion”, an extreme version of the picky eater. When babies play with their food and learn to use utensils, they increase dexterity in their hands as well as their facial muscles, tongue, and throat. They learn when how much to chew and when to and not to swallow. These swallowing skills are key to your child graduating to more complex food textures as they age.

Doc Smo’s Proper Pouch Use Policy
So what are the main takeaways I want you to have about food pouches? These pouches have been around long enough that people, like me, who care for children, are starting to see feeding disorders that are associated with their use.  Every parent wants the very best diet for their children but It appears that food pouches, especially if used often, doesn’t fit into that plan. Then again, when you need a quick fix in your busy hectic lives, an occasional pouch on the fly can be just the ticket-clean and easy. So here is my take: Baby food pouches are better than handing your child a sugary snack or a juice box, but their use shouldn’t serve as a primary source of nutrition. I would reserve these pouches, if you use them at all, to emergency feeding in places where your child can’t make their usual messes. I think balance is key! Focus on ensuring that most of your child’s diet is made up of fresh ingredients and a variety of real foods, fruits, and veggies-without added anything. Then, on occasion (like when your child is hungry and you’re on the move), offer food pouches as a convenient, non-messy, occasional option.

Outro

Well, that’s my take on the new trend of feeding children-great for baby food sales but not so good for children. I know that a lot of you will disagree or agree with my point of view. I would love to hear what you have to say.  Send in your comments and tell your side of the story to www.docsmo.com as a comment to this post. And while you are reacting, if you could rate this podcast where you get your podcasts, we at DocSmo.com would appreciate the feedback. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, in studio 1E, hoping that when your little one is becoming a grouch, your first instinct is not to offer a pouch! Until next time.

 

Many thanks to Sonya Corina Williams with her help in writing this pedcast.

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